Compassionate, Comprehensive Surgical Care

The surgery service at North Coast Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre (NCVS) is run by Dr Richard Mitchell, the practice director and a European and Australasian registered Specialist Small Animal Surgeon.

Dr Mitchell is the only registered specialist in small animal surgery working and operating on the Sunshine Coast.

He offers an extensive service in cutting edge surgery including: orthopaedic, soft tissue, neurosurgery and oncology here at NCVS.

Dr Mitchell has also undergone additional training and is highly skilled in non-invasive surgery (‘key-hole’ surgery) and hip replacements.


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Orthopaedics is the field of medicine and surgery that treats injury and disease of the musculoskeletal system; that is the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons of the body. Our Small Animal Orthopaedics service primarily treats dogs and cats.

Our team’s mission is to enhance the quality of life of pets and their owners through effective treatment of musculoskeletal injury and disease. We combine our advanced and cutting technology with excellence in patient care to ensure you and your pet receive the superior treatment and service you deserve.


We can treat many orthopaedic conditions, but some of our most common procedures include treatment of:

  • Cranial cruciate ligament tear
    • Arthroscopy
    • Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO)
    • CORA based leveling osteotomy (CBLO)
    • Extracapsular suture stabilization
  • Patellar luxation
    • Wedge trochleoplasty
    • Block trochleoplasty
    • Imbrication
    • Corrective femoral osteotomy
  • Bone fractures
    • Plating
    • Inter-locking nail
    • Linear external frame
    • Circular external frame
  • Elbow dysplasia
    • Arthroscopic frament excision
    • Subtotal coronoid ostectomy (SCO)
    • Biceps ulnar release procedure (BURP)
    • Dynamic proximal ulnar osteotomy (DPUO)
    • Sliding humeral osteotomy
  • Immature Hip dysplasia
    • Juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS)
    • Double pelvic osteotomy (DPO)
    • Triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO)
  • Mature/Adult Hip dysplasia
  • Total hip replacement (THR)
  • Femoral head and neck ostectomy (FHNO)
  • Medical management including intra-articular therapy
  • Osteoarthritis management
    • Stem cell therapy
    • Joint arthroscopy
    • Arthrodesis
    • Joint replacement
  • Angular Limb Deformity Correction
    • CT Scan evaluation
    • Linear external frame
    • Circular external frame


Every patient is unique and the cost of your pet’s care will vary depending on the diagnostic testing required, the type of treatment provided and the severity of their condition. Our surgery team will discuss the cost and medical care options with you, and provide you a cost estimate at your appointment. Visit the hospital’s Financial Information page for general payment information.


Minimally invasive surgery is a method of performing surgery by inserting a surgical cameras (telescopic or endoscopic) inside a joint or body cavity, and using thin specially designed instruments to complete the procedure. These instruments and cameras are inserted in through tiny incisions, and in many cases are only 5mm long.

Minimally invasive surgery has become the gold standard for a wide range of operations in humans, but sadly it is not performed nearly enough in animals. Just as in humans, the very small incisions mean a much faster recovery, less risk of post-operative infections, less risks of post-operative wound complications, and most importantly, significantly less pain than with old-fashioned open joint or open body cavity surgery.

Dr Richard Mitchell, our Director Specialist in Small Animal Surgery, is the leading authority in arthroscopic and minimally invasive procedures in Queensland. He has been performing arthroscopic and other minimally invasive procedures for well over 15 years and has made minimally invasive surgery the preferred approach for many procedures that your pet may require.

There are a number of benefits of minimally invasive surgery for your pet, including:

  • Small incisions
  • Quick recovery time
  • Less pain
  • Less scarring
  • Low risk of infection
  • Reduced blood loss

The following is a list of procedures that we can perform using minimally invasive surgery:

    • Liver biopsy
    • Spays (ovariohysterectomy and overiectomy)
    • Cryptorchid castration
    • Prophylactic gastropexy
    • Abdominal exploration and intestinal biopsy
    • Gastrointestinal foreign body removal<li
    • Adrenal biopsy
    • Lymph node biopsy
    • Cystotomy and urolith removal
    • Pericardectomy
    • Pyothorax
    • Lung lobe excision
    • Thoracic cavity exploration and lung biopsy
    • Arthroscopy


    • Large and giant breed dogs with deep chests, such as Great Danes, Weimeraners, and Irish Wolfhounds are predisposed to developing gastric dilation and torsion (GDV) or “bloat”. GDV is a life threatening condition that requires emergency surgery, and even with surgery, can result in death. Prophylactic gastropexy is a surgery aimed at preventing GDV from occurring by tacking the stomach to the body wall. This is accomplished using minimally invasive techniques (one or two small incisions and the assistance of cameras that look inside the abdominal cavity) and can be performed at the time of spay or neuter. We recommend this procedure for any large or giant breed dog that may be at risk, particularly those dogs that have a history of “food bloating” and/ or have a relative that has had GDV.


    • Laparoscopic-assisted cystotomy is a procedure for removing bladder stones that allows access to and viewing of the inside of the bladder through a single 20 mm incision. This procedure allows for flushing of the bladder and improves our ability to completely remove all bladder stones present in the bladder and urethra.


    • Dogs that develop pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart) are at risk for sudden death and emergency treatment is vital to their survival. Following emergency treatment and diagnostic evaluation, a pericardectomy is recommended in many cases to prevent the possibility of fluid building back up. A pericardectomy is a procedure that involves excision of a section of the pericardium (sac around the heart). Traditionally, a thoracotomy (large incision between the ribs) is required to gain access to the pericardial sac. This results in significant pain following the surgery. A thoracoscopic pericardectomy is a minimally invasive method using 2-3 small (5 mm) portals that has been shown to be less painful compared to a thoracotomy.


    • Arthroscopy is the standard method of performing most joint surgeries in humans, and is becoming the preferred method of canine joint surgery as well. The advantages over traditional arthrotomy (open joint) includes improved access to joint structures, magnification of lesions, therapeutic flushing and faster patient recovery. Here at North Coast Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre Dr Richard Mitchell is considered the expert in this field and offers multiple arthroscopic procedures. Click here for more information on arthroscopic procedures.
    If your pet has been diagnosed with one of these conditions or if any of these procedures has been recommended, please contact us for further information.
Soft Tissue and Oncologic Surgery care for small animal patients with a variety of ‘soft-tissue’ disease and conditions. The surgery team at North Coast Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre (NCVS) works hand-in-hand with the medical team. This integrated approach to treating complex surgical problems is the key to our success and enables us to provide a comprehensive and compassionate service. Because of this, we are able to offer state of the art pre- and post operative diagnostic imaging including CT Scans, MRI Scans, fluoroscopy and ultrasound.

Similarly, the surgical management of cancer rarely stands alone, but instead requires a close working relationship between the surgery and medical team. Therefore, individualised treatment plans for our cancer patients include pre- or postoperative chemotherapy when appropriate.

Soft tissue surgery is not all about cancer, and does cover a broad range of procedures. Some of these surgical procedures are listed below.

  • Respiratory Tract Surgery
    • Tracheal Stent Implantation
    • Larygengeal Tieback
    • Elongated Soft Pallate
    • Rhinoplasty
  • Endocrine Surgery
    • Thyroidectomy
    • Parathyroidectomy
    • Partial pancreatectomy
    • Adrenalectomy
  • Gastrointestinal Surgery
  • Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (GDV)
  • Splenectomy
  • Exploratory Laparotomy
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction or Foreign Body
  • Urinary Tract Surgery
    • Perineal Urethrostomy
    • Ectopic Ureter Correction
    • Perineal Urethrostomy
    • Nephrectomy
  • Reconstructive Surgery
  • Pedicle graft or Skin Flaps
  • Additionally, since many of our patients require 24 hour postoperative monitoring due to the seriousness of their condition, we work closely with the fully staff Sunshine Coast Animal Emergency service to ensure the best possible care for our patients. Our team is committed to helping owners make informed decisions regarding the care of their pet.
Joint replacement is a surgical procedure in which the joint surfaces are replaced with a new surfaces which mimics the anatomy of the original joint.
Canine Hip replacement is usually recommended to alleviate pain and/or disability associated with arthritis, or other joint issues such as hip luxation.

Neurological conditions are ones that affect the brain, spinal cord and nerves. The team at NCVS sees a large range of neurological dogs and cats and many require surgical intervention for many reasons. Our multimodal approach utilises both medical therapies and performs surgical procedures where indicated for the treatment of patients with neurological disorders. We commonly work with advanced technology such as MRI and CT imaging and fluoroscopic / arthroscopic guided surgery to provide comprehensive care for your pet.

Surgical procedures of a neurological nature are best performed where specialised aftercare, rehabilitation and 24 hour care is provided. Our dedicated team at North Coast Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre combined with Sunshine Coast Animal Emergency Service (SCAES) provide 24 hour care 365 days a year to ensure your pet is given the best care they deserve.

Neurosurgical Conditions that we commonly treat are listed below.

      • Hemilaminectomy
      • Dorsal Laminectomy
      • Ventral Slot
      • Pediculectomy
      • Surgical stabilisation post disc removal
      • Ventral Slot
      • Distraction Fusion
      • Dorsal Laminectomy
      • Facetectomy
      • Lumbosacral decompression and stabilisation
      • Arthroscopic assisted foraminal decompression
      • Biopsy
      • Craniotomy
      • Skull tumour removal / Cranioplasty
      • Nerve root excision
      • Spinal cord tumour removal


      • Reduction and Stabilisation
      • Fluoroscopic guided fracture repair
    • Caudal occipital malformation syndrome (COMS or Chiari)
    • Foramen magnum decompression
    • Hydrocephalus (ventriculoperitoneal shunt)

Arthroscopy is the standard method of performing most joint surgeries in humans, and is the preferred method of many canine joint surgeries. The advantages over traditional arthrotomy (open joint) includes minimal invasiveness, improved access to joint structures, magnification of lesions, more precise treatment and faster patient recovery. Here at North Coast Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre Dr Richard Mitchell is considered a leading expert in this field and offers multiple arthroscopic procedures as listed below but not exhaustive.


  • Shoulder Arthroscopy
    • Evaluation of shoulder / periarticular lameness
    • Osteochondal dissecans (OCD) lesions
    • Evaluation and treatment of shoulder sub / luxations
    • Evaluation and treatment of biceps tendon pathology and trauma
    • Glenoid labral pathologies
    • Synovial biopsies
    • Articular mice
    • Septic arthritis
    • Lesions of the glenoid labrum
    • Tendinitis, ruprue of the subcapsular muscle tendon
  • Elbow Arthroscopy
    • Excision of the fragmented coronoid process
    • OCD of the humeral condyle
    • Treatment of arthritis of the elbow
    • Treatment of the nonunion of the anconeal process with reattachment / removal
    • Incomplete ossification of the humeral condyle
    • Fracture assessment
    • Septic arthritis
    • Synovial biopsies<li
    • Elbow pain of unknown origin
  • Carpal Arthroscopy
    • Cartilage fractures
    • Carpal fractures without displacement (distal radius, radial carpal bone)
    • Carpal trauma
    • Assessment of stability and suitability for arthrodesis
    • Synovial biopsies
    • Septic arthritis


  • Hip Arthroscopy
    • Labral lesions
    • Mice
    • Articular trauma
    • Preoperative evaluation of hip dysplasia before double or triple pelvic osteotomy for hip dysplasia
    • Postoperative evaluation and treatment of hip luxations and fractures
    • Degerative joint disease
    • Septic arthritis
    • Osteochondromatosis
    • Tear of the ligament of the femoral head
  • Stifle (Knee) Arthroscopy
    • Preoperative evaluation and treatment of cruciate ligament injury (partial versus complete), cartilage disease and meniscal injury
    • As an adjunct to minimally invasive stifle stabilisation (TPLO, CBLO, extracapsular repair)
    • Cartilaginous lesions (fractures, OCD)
    • Lesions of the popliteal ligament
    • Partial tear of the LCA
    • Postoperative evaluation of cruciate ligament repair
    • Septic arthritis
    • Synovial biopsies (polyarthritis, synovitis, neoplasia)
  • Tarsal Arthroscopy
    • Excision of OCD fragments of the lasus
    • Tarsal arthritis
    • Tarsocrural instability
    • Septic arthritis

    Arthroscopy surgery is minimally invasive, and the recovery is routinely quicker then open joint surgeries. Some of these procedures can be performed as day surgery, whilst other procedures we recommend that your pet is hospitalised overnight to receive ongoing monitoring and management.

    If your pet has been diagnosed with a joint condition that requires further investigation please contact our reception team to make an appointment with our surgery team. Please note, we will require a referral from your regular veterinarian.

North Coast Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre

The initial visit to the surgical service involves a comprehensive consultation to help us determine your pet’s problems, outline further diagnostic testing and provide recommendations for definitive treatment and expected outcomes.

There is plenty of time during the consultation to answer all your questions and be sure you are fully educated as to the nature of your pet’s problem and the rationale for recommended treatments.

All recommendations for treatment involve a combination of many years of experience and current knowledge of changes and developments in treatment methods.

Team Approach

We aim to provide a team approach to our patients and as such have access to other disciplines within NCVS, such as medicine, ophthalmology, and dentistry. Should we feel at the initial consultation or during treatment that your pet’s needs are better addressed by one of the other disciplines, then we will discuss these needs and if necessary transfer you to a better qualified clinician.

Providing a specialist surgical service requires first class facilities and we have sought to achieve this when we designed and built NCVS. We have a large fully equipped sterile theatre suite with excellent facilities and have access to all the equipment required to investigate, diagnose (digital radiography, fluoroscopy, ultrasound, CT, MRI, arthroscopy and laparoscopy) and manage and treat complex medical and surgical problems.

The surgery service is available at all times on a strictly referral-only basis (as with all services at NCVS) to provide expert consultation, advice and management in all the major disciplines of surgery.

We are considered a centre of excellence in minimally invasive surgery (the advantages of which are well documented in both human and veterinary medicine) and see large numbers of cases for arthroscopy for the investigation and treatment of various joint diseases (e.g. elbow disease, cruciate and meniscal injury, shoulder OCD and ligamentous injuries) and will rarely perform open surgery on joints unless absolutely necessary (the same as in human joint surgery). We also try to manage fractures with minimally invasive approaches (percutaneous plating and external skeletal fixation) unless open approaches are mandated. Minimally invasive laparoscopy and thoracoscopy are also utilised where possible for the diagnosis and treatment of abdominal and thoracic disease.

Your dog or cat will be greeted by a compassionate surgery team from the moment of check-in to the time of discharge. When your dog or cat has fully recovered from surgery, our staff will provide detailed instructions on post-surgical care for your beloved pet at home. We pride ourselves on compassion and communication with you and your family veterinarian.

Post-operative management and rehabilitation is of paramount importance, especially in cases of orthopaedic surgery, some soft tissue cases, and is a significant factor in early recovery from surgery and return to maximum function. As part of the whole process, we will provide you with comprehensive instruction on the post-operative and rehabilitation process. We will often suggest a consultation with Brooke (our full time physiotherapist) and her team, who will be able to give you the most up to date advice on appropriate rehabilitation.

North Coast Veterinary Specialist and Referral Centre emphasizes a team approach, where we integrate a comprehensive treatment plan so patients receive thorough, high-quality care. Our fully-equipped surgical suites have state-of-the-art monitoring and anesthetic equipment, and pain management is integrated into the preoperative management of all cases to ensure your pet’s comfort.